|Myanmar Telecommunications Research|
Myanmar (Burma) - Telecoms, Mobile and Internet
Military regime weighs heavily on Myanmar's telecom sector
Myanmar's telecommunications sector continues to be dominated by the state-owned monopoly telephone service provider, Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT). With the military government's conservative approach to structural reform, it was not surprising that MPT continues to maintain its monopoly over the telecom sector, being the sole national telephone network operator.
The MPT drafted a 20-year master plan the period 1990 to 2010 and under this plan a range of different projects have been implemented over the years to improve the underdeveloped network. The expansion has been characterised, however, by a somewhat erratic rate of progress. Nevertheless, the country had managed to move from around 100,000 installed fixed lines to more than one million in 2009. Over the same time period the number of fixed-line subscribers increased from 76,000 to just over 800,000. Despite this more than tenfold increase, however, coming into 2010 the country's fixed-line penetration was still less than 2%.
The dispersion of network infrastructure has been heavily biased towards the cities, with Yangon and Mandalay having estimated telephone penetrations of 6% and 4% respectively. According to the ITU, the official waiting list for telephone services stood at 106,000 by end-2004 and had increased to 250,000 by 2008. (There has been no updated figure published since then.) The installation of new telephone services could often take years. This was despite the fact that MPT said it had been expanding the network by approximately 15% each year. To catch up on demand, it was estimated that MPT would need to install more than 500,000 new telephone lines in a short period of time. This would represent a capital investment of around US$600 million - money that was simply not available.
Foreign investment in the telecom sector continued to stay low, due to the political situation in Myanmar, the structure of the country's telecom industry and the general state of the economy, this also being despite the government's attempts to increase foreign interest. Investment in the telecom sector has been running at less than US$6 million per year. By 2009 most villages in Myanmar were still without a fixed-line telephone service.
However, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) that has been ruling the country has declared via its website that it has been making ‘all-out efforts' for the development and improvement in the telecom sector. ‘As regards telephone communications, ‘auto-telephones' were already being installed. Now, one can make telephone contact inside and outside Myanmar quite conveniently', the website claimed. It also added ‘Since the communication sector plays an important role in all round development, the necessary improvements such as installation of microwave telephone exchanges in many townships and introducing of mobile phones via satellite communication offered people easy access. In other words, it is an easy access even to the remotest areas in Mandalay'. Of course, the website did not offer any statistics on the number of telecom (either fixed line or mobile) subscribers in the country. An unfortunate by-product of the government's conservative approach has been that official, up-to-date statistics continue to be hard to come by, especially if they do not paint a positive picture of the government's management of the country.
Note: Market highlights for the Myanmar market are based on estimated figures and conjecture as the administration continues to either not issue information or issue contradictory information.
Myanmar's mobile market has been growing at an annual rate in excess of 25% over the last three years or so.
Of course, this mobile subscriber growth was from a low base and the reported 450,000 mobile subscribers early in 2010 still only constituted a penetration of 0.9%.
Fixed-line subscriber numbers have been growing erratically; after a relatively big surge in 2008, 2009 saw almost zero growth. Penetration remained low, however, still down below 2%.
Internet penetration also continues to be disconcertingly low with accurate figures hard to obtain. Certainly, Internet penetration was below one subscriber per 1,000 of population in 2010.
While Myanmar still needs to seriously address regulatory reform, there was no evidence that any real progress had been made on this front in the 2008/09 period.Myanmar (Burma) - key telecom parameters - 2009 - 2010
Total number of subscribers1812,000850,000
Fixed-line penetration (population)1.6%1.7
Fixed-line penetration (household)7%8%
Total number of subscribers128,00035,000
Internet subscriber penetration (population)0.06%0.07%
Total number of subscribers448,000500,000
Mobile penetration (population)0.9%1.0%
Note: 1Estimates for both 2009 and 2010.
This report provides an overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications markets in Myanmar (Burma). Subjects covered include:
Market and industry overviews;
Major operators (mobile and fixed)
Last Update: 12 Oct 2010 Number of Pages: 25
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